July 28, 2020 • By Sydney Charles
Espi Elio III FEMBA ’14, followed an unconventional path towards an impressive career in technology.
Elio grew up in Long Island and received his bachelor’s degree in health sciences from Boston University in 2008. After graduation, he worked at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in Manhattan with a focus on clinical support and patient research.
“Working with patients and my colleagues at MSKCC was both memorable and rewarding, but after a few years I realized that I wanted to do something different,” he explained. “I’ve always been interested in technology, particularly in understanding how products work and how consumers interact with them. Although a career change seemed like an intimidating move, I wanted to give it a shot.”
Elio then set his sights on business school as the first step to achieve his goals.
Elio started the Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) program in Fall 2011 at The UCI Paul Merage School of Business. He attended classes in the evening and landed a role as a vendor business manager at Ingram Micro. While finding the right balance between a full-time job and business school was challenging at times, he enjoyed being able to immediately apply conceptual knowledge to his career.
“I really enjoyed being a student in the FEMBA program,” he said. “I was in a unique and fortunate position, being able to learn from professors and fellow classmates in the evenings and apply those skills the very next day. It also taught me the important principles of time management.”
After earning his MBA in 2014, Elio decided to make his way up to the Bay Area and experience the heart of the tech industry firsthand in Silicon Valley. As a business development executive for Infosys, a global digital services and consulting firm, he had the opportunity to travel to India and support a high-profile consumer technology client. He then transitioned into a role at Twitter, where he built out an extensive vendor management program and eventually was promoted to lead the Global User Operations team.
“My professional journey up to this point continued to not only fuel my interest in tech, but also sparked a passion for building great customer experiences,” he says. “At Twitter I learned so much about scaling operations across different markets, managing complex budgets and most importantly, hiring and developing great leaders and teams.”
Today, Elio is a senior director for the customer experience team at Coinbase, a cryptocurrency company based in San Francisco that received Series E funding and an $8B valuation in 2018. He leads teams around the world– including cities like Portland, Oregon, Dublin, Ireland and Tokyo, Japan – with a focus on scaling operations alongside a high growth business while delivering support and client services to retail and institutional customers. The overarching goal for the company is to leverage blockchain technology to build an open financial system for the world.
“Coinbase is oftentimes referenced as the place to get your MBA in crypto – and I think that’s true. I’m most fascinated by the intersection between financial services and technology, as well of the prospect of how digital currency can unlock things like universal accessibility, seamless money transfers and secure ownership.”
Additionally, Elio is passionate about building highly engaged and diverse teams. He currently serves as the co-founder and lead for the Asian and Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group (ERG) at Coinbase.
“As a proud Asian American with parents who immigrated from the Philippines, some of the most rewarding work that I do is supporting our amazing ERGs. I’ve always been attracted to organizations that embrace diversity and allow you to bring your genuine self to work,” he says.
In years past, Elio has hosted a group of MBA students during the annual “Bay Area Trek”—a chance for Merage School students to learn about digital transformation and fintech in Silicon Valley.
“I hosted Bay Area Treks at both Twitter and Coinbase,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for MBA students to step foot into prospective workplaces and get to know a little more about companies and their respective cultures.”
“Espi’s open and candid advice, as well as his visceral passion and enthusiasm for his work left our students inspired with a heightened interest in the FinTech industry and an affirmation that the skills and experience they would acquire at the Merage School would prepare them for whatever career path they chose,” said Chris Kovitz, senior associate director at the Merage School Career Center.
Elio is looking forward to continuing his professional journey at Coinbase.
“Crypto is inherently global. We’re in the process of transitioning to a remote-first company and the reality is that our ability to find diverse, world-class talent has improved exponentially. I’m really looking forward to witnessing firsthand how the industry evolves in the near future. And by the way, we’re hiring!”